Unconference by Kiruba Shankar – Book Review
Unconference is a relatively new subject or a new way to conduct conferences. The key difference is that in a traditional conference, there are a set of speakers. Who are expected to be experts in the area? Who speak and the rest of the audience i.e. bulk of people who attend the conference listen to the experts. With a limited opportunity to ask questions. And almost no opportunity to contribute. The atmosphere is formal. Leaving invisible walls between the experts and audience.
Unconference assumes that everyone knows something about the subject at hand. And even if they do not know they can ask relevant questions that bring clarity to the whole group. So in this format, rather than a one to many, many-to-many communication happens. Experts can also speak on the relevant aspect of the topic depending on the level of knowledge or questions that the audience has in mind. Rather than what the expert has to say. This type of methodology is particularly helpful when you are trying to come out with a solution as a group. And need all possible brains rather than a teaching kind of scenario. The focus is on bringing a coffee shop atmosphere. Where everyone feels free to contribute. And there are no walls between people who know and who may not know. Everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute in their own way.
This small book, that as the author says you can finish in a single flight, gives you many variations in which you can organize an Unconference. The basic framework remains the same. But small variations can be adopted depending on the purpose or to add variety. Each chapter describes the form of Unconference, how to organize it, its advantages. And what situations it is most suitable followed by a case study. Further reading and online resources for more information on the form are also provided for you to deep dive into anything might interest you. Kiruba Shankar is well known for practicing Unconference himself very well in his workshops and conferences.
For this small book, I will keep the review also small. If you do not know the concept of Unconference, Read it. If you do know, then read it to find out 10 different variations of it.